290 Hood to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 394 LONDON, 4 June 1946, 8 p.m.


My telegram 368. [1] Refugee Committee.

The Rapporteur's Report was adopted for forwarding to the Economic and Social Council on 1st June, when the Special Committee adjourned in accordance with paragraph 8 on the Economic and Social Council resolution of the 16th February 1946. [2]

2. As indicated in earlier telegrams several points of principle have remained unresolved, and the lengthy report which will go to the Economic and Social Council contains many reservations and explanations inserted at the request of various delegations. The report is not unsatisfactory in that it does establish the existence of a practical refugee and displaced persons problem, to a large extent defines the limits within which any international refugee organisation will have to operate, and lays down many of the details and principles in accordance with which refugee assistance will have to be conducted. The difficulty is that in practically every important respect in which the conclusions of the committee were reached by vote the countries of origin i.e.

U.S.S.R., Byelorussia, Ukraine, Poland and Yugoslavia, formed a standing minority and there is no guarantee anywhere in the document that these countries will co-operate effectively when it comes to the point.

3. The main recommendation of the Committee (on which, however, the United Kingdom Government has made a reservation on its position-see Dominion Office telegram D.555 [3]) is for the establishment of a specialised agency to be known as the International Refugee Organisation with the essential functions of (a) Facilitating the return to their country of origin of those persons who desire to return, and (b) Facilitating the re-establishment of other persons in countries of temporary residence, emigration to and re- establishment in other countries of individuals or family units, and as may be necessary and practicable within the resources which may be available and subject to the relevant financial regulations, investigation, promotion and execution of projects of large scale settlement.

4. I have assumed throughout discussions that the main Australian interest in this question is in connection with any eventual plans for resettlement and the principal statement made by the Australian Delegation dealt with this point. On present showing it seems likely that there will be a long interval before any international agency is in a position to approach Governments with significant resettlement proposals. In the meantime however the further discussions which will take place on the constitution and functions of the International Refugee Organisation will be of some importance to us in as much as Australia as a potential receiving country will presumably be asked to contribute to the operational as well as the administrative costs of the organisation. With this in mind I spoke in favour of deletion from the report at this stage of the financial provisions which seemed vague and unsatisfactory to a degree. Though the provisions were voted in by a majority, our position in this respect is therefore left open. Another point which may be of importance to us is the constitution of the Executive Committee of the general Council of the organisation. Here the Australian vote was cast in favour of a minority amendment designed to confine representation on the Executive Committee after the first year to those countries which contribute to operational costs of the organisation.

5. Copy of the final report is being for-warded immedately by air- mail. [4]

1 Dispatched 28 May, it reported that the work of the committee described in Document 144 was nearing conclusion, but that differences between the countries of origin and the U.S. and U.K.

representatives were likely to remain unresolved.

2 See Document 144, note 3. Paragraph 8 required the committee to meet in London on 31 March and to remain at the disposal of the Economic and Social Council until the convening of the Council's third session (11 September).

3 Document 287.

4 On 21 June, by Resolution 2/2, the Economic and Social Council adopted with some amendments the committee's draft of a constitution, to be circulated to U.N. members, reviewed at its third session in the light of their comments and placed as early as possible on the agenda of the General Assembly. it also established a Committee on Finances of the international Refugee Organization, to prepare provisional administrative and operational budgets and contribution scales.

[AA:A1067, ER46/3/5]